Demonstrators protest local and national racial injustice at Riverside Park

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LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – Dozens of people in our area gathered at Riverside Park Tuesday night to protest for social justice.

“People will come to your house and literally sit outside of your house and threaten you,” organizer Brianna Washington said.

It’s the message Washington wants the La Crosse community to recognize.

“The threats that are made against you are very real,” Washington said.

She says she even encountered problems of her own at Logan High School.

“There was a situation where I had had at the high school, and I was trying to walk home with my friend,” Washington said. “And the boy felt so comfortable enough to say at that school ground the “n” word at me four times.”

Her past experiences, she says, is why she’s helped form her own group called Our Black Student Leaders in La Crosse.

“So if it takes having to protest, having to do walk-outs, having to do whatever I have to do to get my point across, I will continue to do so,” Washington said.

“Some of these are led by my students,” La Crosse Central teacher Alyison Wilcox said. “I just wanted to amplify their voices, mainly. And show them that I care, that I’m here for there, that they’ll always have a safe space with me.”

They are not just calling for justice locally.

“We’re marching for Breonna Taylor,” Washington said. “We only know part of her story. You know George Floyd…Trying to you know remind people that what you see is not always the truth.”

She says if more people speak up, there will be more change.

“We want this to be something real for people,” Washington said. “People to feel like this is what’s going to change the world.”

Washington says around 100 to 200 people took part in the protest, many of whom were wearing masks, but weren’t necessarily social distancing.

Washington adds she’s hoping her group expands to all three high schools and middle schools in La Crosse.